Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Cake and Decorating

Chocolate cake -- First decorative icing

Yesterday, I baked a chocolate cake. On Scott's sister's Christmas list were tools to use to decorate cakes because she wants to learn how. So, of course, when I was in the cake decorating aisle, I got excited about doing some myself, and since I know Scott loves cake, I knew he'd be happy for me to make more. The last time I baked a cake, it was so huge that it was ridiculous for the two of us, so I bought a couple of 6" cake pans, so I can make lots more cakes.

This was my first time piping boarders, which were a mess, and my first time making roses, which I think turned out well.

I baked this chocolate cake recipe from Whisk-Kid:

Super Chocolate Cake

3/4 c (177ml) heavy cream
1 c (160 g) dark chocolate chips (I used 52%)
2 c (250 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3/4 c (177 g)butter, cubed and at room temp
1 c (142 g)firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs + 2 yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) then grease and line two 6 inch pans.

Heat cream until steaming, then pour over chocolate. Allow to set for 5 minutes, then whisk gently to combine. Allow to cool to room temp (put it in the fridge/freezer for a bit, if you like).

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add both yolks plus the vanilla. Then, alternating between wet and dry (beginning with wet), add the flour and cream mixtures in 2 additions each. Be sure to scrape down the bowl!

Divide batter into the two prepared pans and bake 35-40 min.

The batter was stiff like icing, so it was tricky to divide, but it baked up beautifully, light and airy. I may have baked it a tad too long or left it out to cool uncovered too long while I went to buy more butter for the icing, because it was a little dry, but I don't think that was the recipe's fault.

Then I made a Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting based on Whisk-Kid's tutorial. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out well. The meringue was beautiful -- the best I've ever made, and I can't wait to try the technique for Pavlova -- but the butter didn't blend in correctly. I think that perhaps it was too cold. In the end, this may have been because our thermostat was set a little low, and "room temperature" wasn't in the right range. Anyway, after making several efforts to get it to thicken up and get the bits of butter to blend out, I roasted some hazelnuts, crushed them and added them to the frosting, to use as filling. Then I made Julia Child's chocolate buttercream frosting. Unfortunately, this came out a bit too thick -- probably because the room was a bit cold -- and I had difficulty spreading it cleanly when trying to frost the cake. Finally, I made buttercream icing from this video for the decorative elements. It was simply 2:1 confectioner's sugar to room-temperature butter. Because I made this after the point when I realized that the butter needed to be a little warmer than room temperature, it came cout beautifully, and I was able to pipe with it pretty well.

This video was the best one I watched to learn how to pipe my roses. I also liked Little Lady Cakes's drop flower tutorial, though I think I didn't have quite the right tip to try to make them.

Hopefully, I can use TLC's tutorial next time to make better boarders.

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